Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Schooling... a bit differently

When it comes to schooling... we do things a bit *differently*.



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I get up each morning, eat breakfast and complete chores.. and then begin school. Though, our school is special. Each day varies... sometimes the schoolroom is outside in the beautiful sunshine... or in my room with a cup of warm tea... sometimes it is on the kitchen table, with the sound of my family around me.


Sometimes we take a spontaneous field trip...sometimes life skills are our schooling.... but each new day comes and as they go, I am learning more and more, and cherishing each day as I embrace homeschooling.
I still have my Algebra, Chemistry, Literature, and all the studies that a student must receive. But I also get an experience. Homeschooling, to me, is a lifestyle, not just an education. It is taking all the studies one must learn, and learning them at home... living them at home.

 The time around my family, from eating meals together, figuring out English difficulties with my mom, to bike rides on beautiful afternoons, is one of the greatest blessings of being homeschooled.



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I am often filled with joy as I sit down with my school books to read... either walking into the world of Corrie Ten Boom and the life that she lived during World War 2, or learning about the amazing design the Creator has filled the universe with as I study the molecules and atoms that make it up.
It is not just studying a textbook... it is embracing a journey.


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Our schedule is structured, but centered around the verse which tells us that though man may plan his paths, the Lord establishes His steps...
{Proverbs 16:9}
Being homeschooled is one way that we as a family strive to apply the commands in Deuteronomy 6, to teach our children of the Lord, to talk of Him when we come in and go out, when we lie down and when we rise up... to have His words daily on our lips and in our lives.
Homeschooling is a gift... a gift which I cherish everyday
{yes, even those hard days when x doesn't equal y :)}

It is a journey...
A calling...
A joy...





Blessings,

Monday, 27 February 2012

Treasures Found in Homeschooling

Nothing beats homeschooling :]

I am daily thankful for the decision my parents made when I was in second grade, to take my sister and I out of a private school and homeschool us all the way through till graduation!  There were/are so many blessings associated with being homeschooled that it is hard to choose one thing that stands out in my memory as something that was unique to being homeschooled - something that your average kid would not have been able to do.

I guess I'll go with the memory of training alpacas :] 

I have to preface this story by saying that my sister and I were involved in 4-H animal husbandry as soon as we were able to join (8 years old).  We started out with horses and stayed with them until 2002 right after I turned 12. 

It was a beautiful New England fall day.  You know, the one where your just entering fall and the weather is still warm, but not stifling.  I want you to picture a true to form agricultural fair.  You can hear the cows mooing as their owners spraying them down, trying to clean them before Fitting & Show; you can hear the announcer down in the infield announcing the placing of the horse show, and you can hear the sheep and goats baahing, waiting for their little trainers to come and feed them. You can smell those fries that you can only find at the fair along with those jumbo donuts that only come around once a year.

So, you can hear & smell, but what can you see?  Well, there is the 4-H Ice Cream Parlor where there is always a long line of people waiting to get there frappes, sundaes or just a bowl of hard ice cream.  There are the buildings filled with crafts that people have worked on all year and of course there are all the concession buildings selling unique items. But the important thing that you see, is the red and white striped tent.  Inside of it is an obstacle course made up of jumps, hula hoops, weave poles, and a kiddie pool.  And going through the obstacle course are a couple girls ranging from 9-13 years old, leading their alpacas.  They willingly handed over the lead ropes to us to let us play with their animals.  We were hooked:]

That October we joined the Jumping Jax Alpaca Trax 4-H Club and leased our first two alpacas, Black Mirage and Ace Ventura.  These two boys that had been donated to the club with several other alpacas from a farm in Ohio.

That day at the fair was a turning point in our lives.  We have since had up to 12 alpacas, but our numbers have fluctuated over the years and we currently have 11.

However, I want to get back to the point of this post.  "What is one thing that we were able to do growing up as homeschoolers that most kids would not have been able to do?"

A month before we joined the  4-H club, our mom took us on a field trip (a plus for homeschooling) to a farm about 50 minutes away.  This farm had miniature donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, horses, dogs and guesss what...alpacas.  We hit it off with the owner and when she found out we were 4-Hers we clicked even more. (She had been a 4-Her and had raised her kids with 4-H).


A new born cria on the farm :]
 We visited the farm several times, as she had a fiber area where she gave classes on how to use the different fleeces.  One of the times we visited we got to talking about the different  training classes we had taken with our 4-H club on how to halter train, lead, and gain the alpacas trust.  She said that she had to train several crias (baby alpacas) every year to walk on a halter, stand still and allow people to touch them, so that she could bring them to the different breeders shows each season. 

~At this point I should mention that alpacas are VERY skittesh animals and it is not their natural instinct to ask for attention, but rather to run away from people.

With all the other things on the farm that kept her busy she didn't have the time to train them and would we be interested in training them?  We were shocked and honored!  The animals that she was asking us to train were the "cream of the crop" on her farm and would be representing her farm at the shows.

This is where it got exciting.  Because we were homeschooled  this was a terrific opportunity that we were able to take!  If we had gone to a public or private school we would never have been able to accept this offer.  We had to plan on two hours of travel time every time we went over and then at least 3 hours training and we had to be over at the farm a couple times a week. 

We learned so much about animal husbandry on this farm, as well as business management, and like anyone who spends time with animals, it gave us several opportunities to grow some character. 

We worked there for several years training each new year's crias and continuing to work as well with the previous years show animals.

Suri Crias - There are two different breeds of
alpacas. Suri fiber grows in long pencil locks.
 I usually worked with the Suri alpacas.  Something about them just drew me to them.  They were more skittish then the Huacayas, but once I gained their trust you could see a relationship building.  When we would bring them to the show, it would often times be their first time being away from their mom and because I was a familiar face and smell and my voice was familiar, they would cling to me.

God gave us so many opportunities at the shows to be a bright light for Him to so many people.  Because there were so few kids there, we were watched all the time and people would comment. 

We learned so much at the shows about the alpaca industry, the different businesses and yet there were so many little things we learned (although not little in the grand scheme) like responsibility, respect and using every opportunity to reflect Christ.

There were also the lessons that came with traveling, packing, and preparing for these shows.  We were taught how to be prepared for anything but to still be frugal.

Huacaya Crias - My sister trained these.
There fiber grows straight our like
a teddy bears :]

The life skills that we learned over the years would not have been learned if we had not been homeschooled.  The time needed to pursue these activities cannot usually be found with kids who attend a public or private school unless there parents actually own the farm or they live right next door to one.

We learned so very much in the 6 years that we did this and I am so thankful for the opportunity that we had and the lessons that we learned.  God is good.




One Thousand Gifts Giveaway

Sorry, this giveaway is now closed!


Hello! This is Abigail, speaking for the bloggirls, and we've got something very special for you today: we're giving away 1,000 gifts, all bundled up in one gorgeous hardback book!


One Thousand Gifts is a New York Times Bestselling book written by Ann Voskamp. Its purpose? Daring you to live fully right where you are by giving thanks in all things. It's something that every Christian should be doing, but how often do we forget to be filled with the joy of the Lord?
“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”
Ann is really a poet masquerading as a prose-writer. Her words sing off the page as she carries the reader through a journey from brokenness to absolute joy! Ann's search for beauty is not the result of a perfect life that's brought her breakfast in bed from the day she was born; it's a search that was bled out of a horrific wound—many wounds—some that I can't imagine, and some that I can identify with perfectly.  


Her challenge to herself was to find 1,000 gifts in the world around her. They weren't the kind of gifts that we usually thank God for, they were bubbles, and warm sunlight, and weathered wood, and the curl of a child's hair, and her little boy's injured hand, and tulips in a bucket with wooden candlesticks, and her scarred past, and a white fleece shirt, and what the scale read. Ann says, “How my eyes see, perspective, is my key to enter into His gates. I can only do so with thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything? And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joyand seeing shows the way in.” This book is where Ann shows us the key to entering those gates to glory.



I know that this is a powerful book, even though I have yet to finish reading it myself. I joined Ann on her quest to find 1,000 gifts in a year (you can read some of the gifts I've tallied on my personal blog), and it's changing the way I see the world.

So, about that giveaway. If you want to be part of this amazing experience as well, then we want to send you a free copy of One Thousand Gifts! Here are the rules:
  1. This contest has 1 winner, who will be chosen at random.
  2. The contest will end at 11:59 PM (CST), on Saturday March 3, 2012. 
  3. Due to shipping costs, all entrants must live within the contiguous (48) states of America
  4. For every entry you must post 1 comment in the comment section of this post. For example, if you followed the blog and registered for the discussion forum then you would post 2 separate comments.
  5. Be sure to leave contact information in the form of an email address or blog URL so that we can tell you if you won!
  6. You can have up to 6 different entries (If you've already done some of these things, just mention it in your comments):

    • Follow the blog via Google Friend Connect 
    • Join the Facebook group
    • Register for and post something in the discussion forum
    • Post about this giveaway on your own blog
    • Tweet about it
    • Share this post on Facebook

Spread the word! We want to see many more homeschool girls joining this community, getting active in the discussions, sharing their hopes, dreams, reviews, fears, recipes, joys, struggles, prayers and everything in-between.


P.S. Since writing this post we bloggirls have come across some controversy regarding One Thousand Gifts. Please check out this blog post for more information.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Be Perfect


Egg by MinimalistPhotography101.com
Your culture (no matter what culture you live in) is constantly telling you that you must be perfect. Perfect hair, perfect weight, perfect popularity…. And as homeschoolers you’ve probably got another set of expectations from your parents or friends. Perfect test scores, perfect spelling bees, perfect college entrance exams…. Did you know that Jesus is telling us to be perfect too?

 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

                                                                                   -Matthew 5:48

But this is a different kind of perfection: real perfection. The world will be happy if you only look perfect on the surface, and they don’t care what kind of hell you have to go through to get there. Jesus commands us to be perfect all the way through. As C.S. Lewis put it:
When He said , "Be perfect," He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder  in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I want to be "an ordinary, decent egg." There are some things I don't think Jesus can iron out of me  if I'm honest I'd say that there are things that I don't want Him to iron out  but that's not what He has offered me. As Olivia posted on Wednesday, "God created for us a new man in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). A new man. A new perfect man. Not kind-of-perfect, not almost-there.

So how is this supposed to work? We're humans, right? We're flawed, that's in our nature. We can follow a lot of rules and do a pretty good job if given enough time, but perfection is asking a lot. Not only do we not stand much of a chance of ever reaching perfection, but what about the past, what about those less-than-stellar things that we did last year, or last week? My perfectionist tendencies clench and snap under the strain of such high expectations.

But the whole point of what Jesus is saying is that we can't do it! He's not asking us to do the impossible, He's commanding us to be supernatural. It comes down to something that you probably heard in Sunday School, but may never have truly internalized and accepted as true: it’s about Jesus’ perfection, not ours. If we are relying on any part of ourselves to please the Lord, then we’re straying from the path of true righteousness and true beauty. You thought that pleasing your peers was hard? Try pleasing the God of the universe.

The Potter's Hands by bingbingThere is so much beauty in the way Jesus works on us! Lettie B. Cowman wrote, "We must not be fainthearted because we are consciously poor instruments. The main question is in the mastery of Him who uses the instruments." In 1 Corinthians Paul speaks of us having “treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." We are supposed to look like clay right now, but God is molding our jars.

If you’re trusting in your own goodness, your own humility, your own hard work, your own gentle spirit, your own generosity or anything else to make you pleasing to God or to iron out your inner ugliness, stop dead right now. We will never measure up by ourselves; dependence on our own goodness, rationality, etc. is like hanging onto a spider’s web to save ourselves from falling. There’s a perfectly sturdy rope within reach—it’s Jesus, and it costs nothing to grab on to it, nothing except laying yourself down as if in death.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Romans 8:28-31
We are all eggs, and God is going to teach us how to fly. Don't get frustrated with your egg-iness. Maybe you don't look like a bird to yourself or to others, but that's how God sees you. A dear friend of mine told me just yesterday, "Satan keeps track of our sins, God keeps track of our potential." How wonderful to know that we might look like eggs, but in Christ we're nightingales. We're perfect, and it's none of our doing.

How are you like an egg right now? How are you learning to fly on Jesus' wings?



Egg, a photo by MinimalistPhotography101.com on Flickr.
The Potter's Hands, a photo by bingbing on Flickr.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

An Undying Beauty

When God forms a child in the womb, He lovingly and meticulously fashions each joint and sinew, each capillary and nerve ending, to perform its part in the whole—a little body which will grow to glorify Him, which indeed already does bring Him glory by its very existence and intricacy.

And if God creates something so temporal as the human body with such care, how much more beautiful has He made the spirit which exists for all of eternity?

When we repented of our former ways and enslaved ourselves to God, we were recreated. We are new creations; old things have passed away; behold, all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). God created for us a new man in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24). The love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14); He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him (2 Corinthians 5:15). We have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). He has granted us even the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

The wages of sin is death, but thanks be to God that He crucified our old selves and raised us again to a new life, as described in Romans 6:


Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
How beautiful then has God made us on the inside as well! Such mercy is truly humbling.

Some seem to think it is spiritually vain to praise Him for what He has made us. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14). All things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Praise the God who creates beauty inside and out.




In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
1 Peter 1:6-7
Image courtesy Glen's Pics on Flickr.

Monday, 20 February 2012

You're Beautiful

Upon reflection, one thing I have found to be true of late is that a woman will never find any satisfaction in trying to be someone who she is not.  
It will only breed discontentment because God made us to be who we are!  

I have often fallen into the trap the devil sets of:
"You aren't good enough...you will only be beautiful if you fill in the blank."  

That is when you have to guard your thoughts and counter those lies for the truth of God's Word.  


What does He tell us about true beauty?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4

This is the kind of beauty we should long for!  
It far surpasses any beauty that is of the world because it is 'unfading'...
it comes from within!


Here are some wonderful thoughts from Leslie Ludy on the topic of beauty....

"Any human beauty, any human value that we might find within ourselves is just a filthy rag compared to the limitless beauty and glory of Jesus Christ.  Christ's beauty is perfect.  And, in spite of what we deserve, He desires to adorn us with His spectacular glory.  He may choose to showcase His beauty through us in a unique way, through our own individual personality or the special gifts He has given us.  But it is not our unique beauty that must shine for this world to see.  It is not our own beauty that we must discover and embrace--it is His."  


We are all beautiful in His eyes because He is our Creator.  He made every individual unique and precious in their own way.  Instead of just focusing on outward beauty we should look at the state of our inward beauty too...Christ sees us from the inside out!  


So, I have some special words for all of you today...and they are:


You are already beautiful 
just the way you are in God's eyes.  
So just be you!




I invite you to close your eyes and listen to the song below that inspired today's title...


You're Beautiful by MercyMe on Grooveshark


Blessings in Christ,

   

Friday, 17 February 2012

Beauty Within

It can be easy to look at the mirror and see our faults. In fact, that's sometimes all we see, regardless of how we dress or how much makeup we apply or...well, no matter what. Cultural perceptions reinforce this; we are told we have to be tall, skinny, busty, and blonde to be truly "beautiful".

And then there's the other side of it, the side propagated by ugly people...except not really. That side says that it doesn't matter what you look like, because true beauty is within.

For a long time, I struggled between those two, trying to find some sort of truth inside one or the other, and failed, time and time again. And then I realized: neither is true. Our exterior isn't everything that matters, because God doesn't look at the outward appearance, the Bible tells us that. But neither is the inside the only thing that matters, because humans are wired to care at least somewhat about the exterior, for whatever reason.

And so we must find a balance. We must learn to accept ourselves as we are, to look at our bodies and ourselves with the eyes of Christ and see the beauty He made. As Shannon posted below--"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" But we also must realize that, yes, the inside will always be worth far more than the exterior. What we put into our minds and hearts will, as the Bible tells us, always come out eventually. We must take care to guard our inner beauty as well as our outer.

In the end, I struggle just as much as the next girl with accepting myself as I am and seeing the beauty that God sees. I get up in the morning with bedhead and too-big pants and a t-shirt that literally hangs off me, and I look in the mirror and think, "If I ever get married, it will be a miracle." But I like to think that I have come to simply accept myself as I am, to strive to be the best I can be and to cultivate my inner beauty--what little bit of it there is.

Always remember that you, too, are an amazing person created by God, a beautiful individual crafted for His purpose. It could just be that someday, that bedhead and those annoying, bookish manners will come in handy.







I apologize for my rather scattered thoughts. I've been trying to pull different ideas together all day, hence the lateness of my post, and...whatever this is.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

True Beauty

Dresses by Nurse Kate

 She looks into her mirror, a sad countenance on her face... why must she have so many freckles, blemishes, and faults? She tries to put up her hair like the "other girls" do, but her efforts fail her, and the ribbons and clips and fanciful additions all come to nothing.

She opens her closet, glancing from side to side, and wishing that she had more clothes that made her look like the others... wishing that she would be counted amongst the "pretty girls". Her vain pursuits have taken her no where...

Why don't others pay attention and pamper her desires like they do to the popular ones... the ones who always have it all. Why are there never people busy about her, flattering her, and giving her attention?
She wonders if she is not pretty enough, doesn't have a good outward appearance...
"Maybe if I start acting like, dressing like, talking like...."

She falls liable to that trap that so many young ladies fall into... the trap of discontentment and the wrong view of beauty.

This sad tale doesn't have to be... there is another way, another road. The Creator has made each and every one of us beautiful... and by rejecting ourselves and His design for us, we are saying that He, the Almighty King, made a mistake.

But, as it says in Psalm 19:14...
"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well."

I am made in the image of God... the Creator of all.
He who loves me with an everlasting love, shaped me and formed me.
He gave me every single freckle...He made my eyes the perfect color...He gifted me with the hair that He desired for me to have.

Yet, our outward appearance means so little, if anything, in comparison to the place of true beauty, the beauty of one's heart. A truly beautiful person is one whose heart fears the Lord, who wears the adornments of love, kindness, compassion, and humility as graceful garlands...the beauty of a Godly heart is the most to be desired.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Proverbs 31:30

Many of us know this verse by heart, but how many of us are living it?
Do we value a pure and contrite heart, or are we so focused on being popular or pretty?


Poppies I by cwasteson

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God"
1 Peter 3:3-4

A truly beautiful young lady is one who wears the Godly virtues of gentleness and love...

Dear reader... the Lord has made YOU BEAUTIFUL just the way you are, for HE MADE YOU!
You have been created by the Lord, who has a beautiful plan for your life...

Contentment comes when we embrace His gift to us... when we bless Him for making us who we are, because He did it for His glory. Let us strive to continue to put on the beautiful virtues treasured by the Lord, and to fear Him with all of our heart, knowing that He has made us exactly the way He has planned, for our good and His glory. The one who does this is truly is a beautiful person...

Blessings,


Dresses, a photo by Nurse Kate on Flickr.
Poppies I, a photo by cwasteson on Flickr.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Finding Blessings

Hello Dear Readers,

This week and next weeks topics will conisist of writings focused on "Finding beauty in who God wants us to be" or " Being who we are as God created us to be."

As I thought about what to write on, I realized what a deep subject we are taking on and how we could spend a month rather than two weeks on this topic :]  How do I touch a subject that effects so many young ladies hearts and bring encouragement to them in a short post?

I have to admit, I write this with some trepidation.  This is an area that I struggle with and it's difficult for me to write about something I have yet to fully apply to my own life.  So, as you read this, please understand I am still working on application.

Our family has been learing a lot lately about this specific topic from Embassy Institute (I wrote about this on my blog).  Paul and Jenny Speed, two of the speakers, have specifically talked about how Satan desires us to believe different lies about ourselves that cause us to not be able to live vibrant lives, content and happy where God has placed us and with who we are. - The young women He has created us to be.    One of the points that they continue to point out is that we are made in the image of God.  If we believe lies that Satan has encouraged us to believe, like, "I'm ugly," "I'm worthless," "I'm stupid," "I need to do everything perfect in order to be loved," etcetera, then we need to ask ourselves, "Is God stupid?"  Is God ugly?" "Is God worthless?"  We are made in His image and He is not any of those things and neither are we.


Whatever it is that we believe about ourselves, we need realize that Satan is putting those lies into our heads and we need to denounce him and find who we are in Christ.  He is the only one we are to seek our validation and worth from.  If He believes we are special enough to send His only Son, to die on the cross, to take our penalty for our sins, then we as His daughters should trust Him.  He has a specific reason for the color of our eyes, hair and skin, our height and weight, our family, friends, and where we live, what our talents and weaknesses are and so much more.

Can you find the blessings in life's storms?
On of the keys to finding contentment with who we are (along with prayer & devotions) is seeing the blessings in our surroundings.  Cultivating the character qualities of gratefulness and contentment.

"Gratefulness is the foundation of a believers walk with God, and of God's daily will for our lives. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~ In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
By giving thanks for all things, including unexpected trials, physical infirmities, people who reproach and persecute us, mundane necessities of life, distressing situations, we will pass the test of the Holy Spirit and receive the power of genuine love, joy and peace." [1]

(As I read the above paragraph I realized that the quote needed the verse Phillipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." to go with it.  We will never be able to accomplish any of the above without Christ's help!)

"Gratefulness is defined by God as a sacrifice because it means surrenduring our natural tendency to murmur." [2]   Psalm 116:17, " I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord."

"Next to faith, this is the highest art: to be content in the calling in which God has placed you." ~ Martin Luther

God has a reason for everything, our job is to trust Him and follow where He leads.

I want to encourage you to find the blessings that surround you.  Satan has to work doubly hard on a heart that is grateful and content.

Abigail wrote on her personal blog a few week ago about a website that Ann Voskamp (author of "One Thousand Gifts") writes.  She has a free list that she will post every month, containing ideas on how to find unique and creative ways to find beauty in your life.  It has greatly encouraged me and I would highly recommend taking on the challenge of finding 1,000 gifts in a year.  Here is a link to her website.  Enjoy!

May God bless you girls with eyes and hearts that find joy, peace, and beauty in who God has made you and where He has placed you.

Striving one day at a time to follow the narrow road,

Friday, 10 February 2012

Grace for the Good Girl

I was born a Good Girl. I was raised in a Christian household, the oldest child, academically inclined, a dedicated Christian, never went through that "teenage rebellion" stage, worked with the family, getting a college education--that's me. I'm always striving for perfection, to do everything "right". What does "right" mean, exactly? It means the absolute best I can do, and more than that. All my life I've gone through a punishing cycle of longing to be good enough and then failing my own wildly outrageous expectations. If my essay is given a grade of 97% I tend to think, what about the other 3%? If I pray for 5 minutes I tend to think, shouldn't I pray for 10? My life is dominated by ratios and statistics and scores and rates. I'm not really negative, just driven. And I always thought that was a good thing.


Are you like a Good Girl?

Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl, opened my eyes to a world where I don't have to strive for Jesus' approval, or my family's and friends' approval, or my own approval. I am a Good Girl because of Christ's redeeming blood, not because I earn high grades, or pray a lot, or witness to thousands, or always wear a smile. I am a daughter of the King because of who He is, not because of who I am.

It's such a simple concept--one that I've heard in a variety of contexts for years--but Emily brings it all home with stories and examples from her own life and the lives of other women that make me cry tears of identification and beautiful relief. I'm not alone! I'm not the only girl who's longed to be good enough and can never, never, never be good enough. I'm only halfway through Grace for the Good Girl right now, but I'm consuming every page with avid eagerness, waiting to discover more secrets about myself that I never guessed (and there are many), learning from the mistakes and heartaches of women who have walked the path I'm walking to its bitter, galling end.

It's a book that might very well change my life.

The life of a Good Girl is all about her Mask: the thing that hides all of her insecurities and guilt and substitutes a lovely facade which everyone looks at and says, "Wow, what a beautiful girl!" We love our Masks because they protect us, but they scare us because we know what will happen if they drop away--everyone will see us for what we truly are

There are many different flavors of Good Girl. Maybe you don't strive for academic perfection, but your Mask is a good reputation that you would do anything to protect. Are you always hiding behind the "I'm fine" response, constantly wearing a smile and hoping that no one realizes that you're being ripped apart inside? Perhaps you're like the biblical Martha, hiding behind your acts of service, working and working and working for acceptance. Perhaps you're a rule follower who hides behind spiritual disciplines, doing all the right things in the right order and coming up empty from the well of eternal life. Do you hide behind a Mask of strength and responsibility? Perhaps you would do anything to please the people you love--even deny yourself an opinion and personality of your own--or you might identify with the older brother in the story of the prodigal son (that's me!) and feel sharp, grating anger when you don't get rewarded for your hard work and the undeserving get their socks blessed off.

These are just a few symptoms of "Good Girl-ness". They will eventually lead you and me to a place of self-sufficient hardness, pride, ingratitude, and crushing inadequacy. Can it be cured? Emily is teaching me how to receive, remainrespond, and remember the amazing grace of Christ. He does have grace--even for Good Girls. 

I can't wait to finish this book, and I hope that if you see any resemblance to yourself in the descriptions above that you will snap it up as soon as possible (it's $11.19 on Amazon). Watch the video below and hear from other women who have realized the pitfalls of their Good Girl-ness...and lived to tell about it.


For a more complete review, see parchmentgirl.com




My name is Abigail Rogers, and I'm a good girl.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Wordplay: A Review

I apologize for another late post! I planned to post this afternoon while I was away, but for some reason I couldn't connect to the wifi there. There's been a family emergency, so even though I'm not finished writing this post, I'm just going to post it.

Since we've posted a lot about spiritual issues, I've decided to focus more on the academic side this time. A lot of homeschoolers, it seems, are writers, and as such are ever seeking to hone their craft.

One of my favorite sites for fiction writers, and the only one I read regularly, is KM Weiland's Wordplay. She consistently offers relevant and objective advice on all aspects of story in a humorous yet intelligent tone.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Just Jane: {a book review}


{via}

Recently, I borrowed a book from my friend's dear library
called Just Jane: A Novel of Jane Austen's Life by the talented Nancy Moser. 
{To learn more about the author's books visit her website, here!}


::Summary::

Jane Austen lives simply in the English countryside with her beloved family, entertaining them with her stories and seeking romance.  She never ventures far from her own corner of the world and struggles to find her place in it.  Growing up in a clergyman's home gives Jane opportunities to observe human nature at its best--and worst.

Vivid and delightful characters pour from her pen--Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price, John Willoughby...Jane dreams of publishing her stories and sharing them with the world, but she's just Jane from Steventon, isn't she?  Will anyone ever read her novels?

{click here to read an excerpt from the first chapter.}


::My thoughts::

With rich characters and an intriguing story you will immediately be drawn into the world of Jane and the everyday happenings of her life {what a pleasure this is!}.  The thing that inspired me most about Jane was her firm trust in the Lord throughout her trials--as well as her love for writing!  She never gave up hope that her works would become published someday. 

My rating of this book = 5 out of 5 stars.


::Favorite quotes from Just Jane::

Cassandra {Jane's devoted sister} to Jane:  "Instincts are given to us by God to guide us. It takes a strong woman to listen to those instincts and ignore what the world says to do."

Jane:  "I opened the trunk and gazed upon the work of my life; pages and pages of words carefully chosen, drawing images of people who were as real to me as flesh and blood, who lived lives that had been put on hold while I muddled through my own struggles and disappointments."

Jane: "I do not wish to write a story where all is completely as it should be.  At least not without a good bit of trials, travails, and travels along the way."
  
Jane:  "All things happen for a reason--but that does not mean all things succeed as we hope."

Jane:  "Now that my writing has its own solid place within the moments of my life, I am free to enjoy all the moments more fully." 


<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3
I am always intrigued by anything having to do with Jane Austen, so this book has been splendid to read!  Have you read Just Jane
{If not, please add it to your wishlist--I hope you will fall in love with it as much as I did.  *winks*} 
If so, what were your thoughts about it?   

<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3


Also, for those of you who are Jane Austen fans,
I encourage you to join these fun blog events here & here!


Blessings,

Friday, 3 February 2012

Les Miserables

I went back and forth for quite awhile on what to write for my review. So finally, staring up at my bookshelf (it's a very pretty bookshelf, if I can just brag on my daddy and my book-collecting ability for a moment), I decided I'd just write about a recent book I read and really loved, Les Miserables.

Les Mis is one of those huge books that people are afraid of--and for good reason, I have to admit. The copy I read was over 1200 pages long, full of weighty discourses on religion, philosophy, politics, and the nature of man. It's not an easy, fluffy sort of read that you just curl up with and heartily enjoy in an few weeks. It took me over a month to read, and that's saying something since usually I can blow through books in a matter of days, even relatively long books (as a point of comparison, I read Brisingr in a little under a week and book 7 of the Harry Potter series in three days). Hence, Les Mis was a book I went into with some trepidation, just because it really is so huge and has a reputation for being rather dry.

I did find parts of it dull. Hugo's retelling of the Battle of Waterloo is notoriously, ramblingly boring by times, despite the occasionally important details contained within it. Some of his inward discourses on religion and the reasons thereof also got to be a bit too much, but were enjoyable nonetheless.

And so, despite the many cons that could be lodged against this book, I heartily enjoyed it. The characters were beautifully engaging, even Cosette, who occasionally felt too much like a Mary Sue to my writer's mind. Fantine's story is so beautifully sad, so utterly moving on such a primal way--and I have to confess something. I wish she had lived, because she and Jean Valjean would have gotten married and been very happy. Perhaps that's not what would have happened, you say. But you are wrong, and I am right, and don't you disturb my "shipper's" heart.

Marius is easily one of my favorite male characters of all time. He ranks just slightly lower than Mr. Bingley, actually, who's a close second to Mr. Knightley, who just scrapes below Aragorn who's about five slots below Mr. Darcy, who's pretty much perfection. Don't judge me. I have lots of favorites. Anyway, even though Marius occasionally seems like a rather weak sort of fellow (for instance--what sort of man determines to kill himself because his girl is moving away?), he's still adorably sweet and his general state of distraction is so hilarious to read.

And then there's Jean Valjean himself, the central thread that binds Les Mis together into one cohesive whole. At times, I found him frightening. I found some of his actions detestable. I thought him the worst sort. But then, as the reader was taken into his mind and shown the torture and yet beautiful simplicity of his soul, you came to realize that he's really one of the most amazing people to ever walk the planet. His intentions pure, albeit twisted occasionally, he always ends up doing the right thing, even when it is difficult and you wonder why he did it. In the end, I believe he is possibly one of the most human (complicated, contradictory, yet beautiful) characters I've ever gotten to know.

These characters are put into a world of such beautiful complexity. I've read French literature, or literature set in France, before--The Three Musketeers, The Scarlet Pimpernel, things like that--but never one like Les Mis. Les Mis isn't afraid to deal with the most dark, horrible bits of humanity. Prostitution, murder, revenge, greed, all of these have a place within the story. Hugo takes a long, hard look at it what is darkest and most reprehensible in human nature. And then into that he weaves redemption: love, honor, order, honesty.

And so he wove one of the most amazing stories ever.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Wives And Daughters: A Review


Molly Gibson with her Father
When I first stumbled upon this classic story, I fell in love with it right away.
The beauty, purity, and issues presented captivated my heart.
"Wives and Daughters", written by Elizabeth Gaskell in the 1800's, is both a wonderful book and an enchanting movie{ by BBC in 1999}.It tells the story of a young lady {Molly Gibson} who lives with her dear father in a small town in England. Her mother died while she was young, and therefore her relationship with her father was highly prized and cherished. Her father was a loving man and was devoted to his daughter....


Mr. Gibson decides to marry later on in Molly's life, and the woman he chooses is one who is, simply put, a tool to help add to Molly's virtue of patience. With a new mother comes a new step-sister named Cynthia, Molly has a completely different life before her. Molly and Cynthia become very good friends, though Cynthia's past tangles up in Molly's life and Cynthia captures the heart of a young man that Molly cherishes...  as the story unfolds, you will continually see Molly's truthful, pure, selfless, and humble character beautifully portrayed, even though others begin to judge her otherwise. She remains steadfast under severe trails, and her virtuous character always prevails.


Thoughts that filled my mind as I watched this movie were the blessings of purity {as she displays with her relationship with the Hamley's.}and the joy that follows when a daughter cherishes her relationship with her father.

Molly's selfless character is a pleasant joy to revisit time and time again, and her Godly virtues are to be applicable in every young ladies' life...



A book worth reading a hundred times... a movie that you will immediately fall in love with... "Wives and Daughters" is a wonderful story and will captivate your heart!


Blessings,

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